Censored for censorship

Interlaced - 12x12 Oils on Canvas
Interlaced – 12×12 Oils on Canvas by Jennie Rosenbaum

Last week I received a rejection phone call. not a form letter, but a call to explain why my proposal regarding censorship had been rejected.

A couple of months back I submitted a proposal for an installation. it was for an art project set in a series of empty shops in a suburb of Melbourne. I decided rather than submit a series of paintings to be put on display I would go for something different. I would test myself and the people running the project. I decided to do an installation.

the concept was to show a gallery forced to close because of the subject matter in the artwork. I took real examples from national and international censorship issues and decided to show my works covered up in the same, brutal, methods used. duct tape, paper plates, garbage and paper bags, and empty spaces where the works were obviously so controversial as to be removed entirely. everything was going to be applied carefully to not damage the works but look as harsh as possible. the look was to be of a gallery that kept trying to appease everyone and still had to close down because nobody wanted to buy works they couldn’t see. and that clearly there was nothing wrong with the works to begin with. The reason for wanting to use my own works was accessibility, I needed to be able to install this at the drop of a hat, and the sheer lack of contention surrounding my works. I also don’t mind treating my work this way to make a statement but it’s a lot to ask of anyone else.

The proposal raised a lot of debate among the committee. some were in favor of the idea as original and well thought out, a chance for discussion and publicity. others saw all of that as a bad thing. they were concerned that it would be over the communities heads, that debate was not what was needed at the time and controversy should be avoided. some were worried it was too conceptual, others were worried it would be too real and spark real problems. apparently the debate grew quite heated. so much so that I received some quite confusing postal communication. the outcome is that it was just too controversial and contentious for the neighborhood.

so how do I feel about this? oddly elated. my proposal was debated, it raised voices and contention. it got people thinking. it may be that it wasn’t right for this project but I count this rejection as a success. I will be submitting the proposal to other galleries and storefront projects – I am confident that it will be taken up by someone. not as a profitable venture but as a statement. one that needs to be made.

if you know of a project or gallery that might be interested I welcome your suggestions 🙂

3 thoughts on “Censored for censorship

  1. Most amusing! I like the concept, too…

    I can understand them not wanting to go ahead, as there will almost certainly be those who miss the entire point of your project and start attacking the committee for censoring your installation. It sounds like they’d be quite amenable to a normal display of your art, which is always nice.

  2. thanks everyone, I’m starting with galleries here in Australia (I’ve sent out one already) then I will move overseas. I think it is something that will work better in a live environment because I want the brutality of the methods of censorship to really come across. photographs of duct tape and paper plates and garbage bags wont be as effective. if I can’t get any takers I will look at putting something up online though and seeing if that can generate interest in a live show – this is something I really am passionate about doing!

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